Apple Finally Drops iCloud Storage Plan Prices

October 2, 2015 by  
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For the second time in as many years, Apple dropped prices for its expanded iCloud storage plans, putting costs in line with rivals like Google, Microsoft and Dropbox.

Apple announced changes to iCloud extra storage pricing earlier this month at the event where it unveiled new iPhones, the larger iPad Pro and a revamped Apple TV.

Although the Cupertino, Calif., company did not boost the amount of free storage space — as Computerworld speculated it might — and instead continued to provide just 5GB of iCloud space gratis, it bumped up the $0.99 per month plan from 20GB to 50GB, lowered the price of the 200GB plan by 25% to $2.99 monthly, and halved the 1TB plan’s price to $9.99.

Apple also ditched last year’s 500GB plan, which had cost $9.99 monthly.

The new prices are in line with the competition; in one case, Apple’s was lower.

Google, for example, hands out 15GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for free — triple Apple’s allowance — and charges $1.99 monthly for 100GB and $9.99 each month for 1TB. The smaller-sized plan is 33% more per gigabyte than Apple’s 200GB deal, and Google’s 1TB plan is priced the same as Apple’s.

Microsoft also gives away 15GB. Additional storage costs $1.99 monthly for 100GB — the same price as Google Drive — while 200GB runs $3.99 per month, 33% higher than Apple’s same-sized plan.

Microsoft does not sell a separate 1TB OneDrive plan but instead directs customers to Office 365 Personal, the one-user subscription to the Office application suite. As part of the subscription, customers are given 1TB of OneDrive space. Office 365 Personal costs $6.99 monthly or $69.99 annually.


Did Apple Have Issues With iOS 9

September 29, 2015 by  
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Apple has officially released iOS 9, but in the first hour users reported that they were unable to grab the 1GB download.

“Software Update Failed,” the message read on iPhones and iPads. “An error occurred downloading iOS 9.”Computerworld confirmed the problem, initially seeing it on multiple iOS 8 devices. But after several subsequent attempts, the download successfully started about an hour after Apple issued the upgrade.

Similar reports of early problems were posted on Apple’s own support forums and elsewhere on the Internet. “Not a very helpful error,” wrote someone identified as “yanic” on the former.

Others countered with snark. “Strangely, this is not a ‘limited time offer,’ said “stedman 1″ on the same thread, likely referring to Microsoft’s Windows 10 free upgrade offer, which is valid for one year. “The software will be available tomorrow, and the next day, and next week.”

Some advice ended up being more helpful. “You are facing an overloaded server which is pretty typical of the first day a software revision comes out,” contended “Ralph Landry1″ on a different discussion thread.

Several iPhone owners who had said that they were unable to download iOS 9 returned to the same forum threads to report they had gotten the upgrade later.

Apple’s track record with iOS releases has been mixed. Last year’s iOS 8 roll-out seemingly started off smoothly — there were few initial complaints about getting the upgrade — but many soon griped that 8′s large size forced them to wipe apps and content from their devices before they could install the new OS.

iOS 9′s size and the free space requirements for installation were both reduced to address that problem of last year. The free space demand for iOS 9 fell to 1.3GB to 1.8GB from last year’s 4.5GB to 5GB.


Are Investors Losing Patience With Apple?

September 24, 2015 by  
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Investors fear that Apple has run out of ideas after it released a version of Microsoft’s surface pro and an iPhone, which was the same as last year’s.

Apple’s Tim Cook might have thought yesterday, as he walked away from the cheering crowds of Apple employees and rabid New York Times writers, that he had won the day.

However, Apple shares fell 1.9 percent as shareholders realised that there were no transformative products that could jumpstart the company’s sales ahead of the crucial holiday season.

Apple shares usually drop an average of 0.4 percent on the day of iPhone announcements because the hype never matches the reality but this is a much bigger fall.

The big iPad received a raspberry because it was too big and similar to Microsoft’s Surface tablet and the new iPhones were too similar to those released a year ago. The Apple Surface Pro even came with a stylus, which is something that Apple fanboys mocked for years. In fact the only innovative thing about it was that it required recharging every ten hours making it the chocolate teapot of pencils.

All they had which was new was the 3D Touch which is a “so what?” technology which no one really needed or cares about. It was certainly not worth upgrading to get.

Jobs’ Mob has clearly given up on any pretence of “thinking different” and short of ideas has copied itself and others.

We expected the Apple TV announcement to be hugely disappointing. Apple has mostly dialled back its ambitions this year as it plans a bigger telly service announcement next year. But you would think that after all these years not upgrading the Apple TV, Jobs Mob could have come up with some more interesting hardware.

What we got were demonstrations showed tricks to make viewing easier voice control which can rewind a video for 15 seconds and turn on subtitles, when a viewer asks something like “What did she say?”

Oddly Cook said that Apple had worked really hard, and really long on that project. The new set-top box will include an app store and let developers create new software for Apple TV, including video games.

Again nothing that you can’t get elsewhere and probably a lot cheaper.  We expect the Tame Apple Press will go into damage control limitation exercise and try to convince the world that everything is brilliant.  Watch the comments below for statements from “Apple investors” claiming that their shares have gone up and that there was tons in yesterday’s rally to get excited about.


AMD Increases FM2+ Lineup

September 22, 2015 by  
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AMD will expand its socket FM2+ chip lineup with three new parts – the A10-7890K and A8-7690K APUs, and the Athlon X4 880K CPU.

The new parts showed up on the compatibility list of socket FM2+ motherboards by BIOSTAR and it is not clear when they will be in the shops.

The architecture mentioned is “Kaveri,” but the silicon could be “Godavari” which is a Kaveri refresh.

The top of the range will be the A10-7890K, which has CPU clock speeds of 4.10 GHz out of the box. We do not know what the TurboCore frequency will be, but the current A10-7870K offers 3.90 GHz with 4.10 GHz TurboCore. The A8-7690K has a CPU clocks of 3.70 GHz. We are not sure what the iGPU clock speeds of the two chips.

The Athlon X4 880K is the most interesting. It has 4.00 GHz CPU clocks. The Athlon X4 FM2+ series lack integrated graphics that means that they are good for those who will buy discrete GPUs, on the FM2+ platform.

All three chips offer unlocked base-clock multipliers, enabling CPU overclocking.


Both AMD And nVidia Preparing For 14nm

September 4, 2015 by  
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AMD and Nvidia both appear to be certain to get their “14 nm” out next year.

According to TweakTown Nvidia is apparently dotting the “I” and working out where to put in the semi-colons for its Pascal GPU using TSMC’s 16nm FinFet node. AMD rumored has been wining and dining its old chums at GlobalFoundries to use its 14nm process for its Greenland GPU.

Although these sound like different technologies the “14nm and 16nm”  is difference how you measure a transistor. The outcome of both 14 and 16 should be a fairly same sized transistor with similar power features. TSMC calls its process 16nm FinFet, while Samsung and GloFo insist on calling it 14nm FinFet.

The dark satanic rumor mill suggests that the Greenland GPU, which has new Arctic Islands family micro-architecture, will have HBM2 memory. There will be up to 32GB of memory available for enthusiast and professional users. Consumer-oriented cards will have eight to 16GB of HBM2 memory. It will also have a new ISA (instruction set architecture).

It makes sense, AMD moved to HBM with its Fury line this year. Nvidia is expected to follow suit in 2016 with cards offering up to 32GB HBM2 as well.

Both Nvidia and AMD are drawn to FinFET which offers 90 percent more density than 28nm. Both will boost the transistors on offer with their next-generation GPUs, with 17 to 18 billion transistors currently being rumored.


Apple TV Service Delayed Again

August 26, 2015 by  
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Apple Inc will push back rolling out its live TV service to at least next year, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans.

The company had planned to introduce the service, which is delivered over the Internet, this year.

Discussions with broadcasters such as CBS Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc to license programming are progressing slowly, and lack of content has led Apple to scrap plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event, Bloomberg said.

Apple also lacked the computer network capacity to ensure a good viewing experience, Bloomberg said.

The company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, which will be held in San Francisco.

Apple was aiming to price the new service at about $30 to $40 a month, media reports have said.


Can OSX Make Macs Vulnerable To Rootkits?

August 7, 2015 by  
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The software genii at Apple have redesigned their OSX software to allow malware makers to make designer micro-software that can infect Macs with rootkits.

Obviously the feature is one that Apple software experts designed specifically for malware writers, perhaps seeing them as an untapped market.

The bug in the latest version of Apple’s OS X allows attackers root user privileges with a micro code which could be packed into a message.

Security researcher Stefan Esser said that this was the security hole attackers regularly exploit to bypass security protections built into modern operating systems and applications.

The OS X privilege-escalation flaw stems from new error-logging features that Apple added to OS X 10.10. Plainly the software genii did not believe that standard safeguards involving additions to the OS X dynamic linker dyld applied to them because they were protected from harm by Steve Job’s ghost.

This means that attackers to open or create files with root privileges that can reside anywhere in the OS X file system.

“This is obviously a problem, because it allows the creation or opening (for writing) of any file in the filesystem. And because the log file is never closed by dyld and the file is not opened with the close on exec flag the opened file descriptor is inherited by child processes of SUID binaries. This can be easily exploited for privilege-escalation,” Esser said.

The vulnerability is present in both the current 10.10.4 (Yosemite) version of OS X and the current beta version of 10.10.5. Importantly, the current beta version of 10.11 is free of the flaw, an indication that Apple developers may already be aware of the vulnerability.

An Apple spokesman said that engineers are aware of Esser’s post of course they did not say they would do anything about it. They will have to go through the extensional crisis involved in realising that their product was not secure or perfect. Then the security team will have to issue orders, signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to an internal inquiry, lost again, and finally bury it in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.


AMD’s Quantum Has Intel Inside

July 1, 2015 by  
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AMD’s Project Quantum PC system, with graphics powered by two of the new Fiji GPUs may have got the pundits moist but it has been discovered that the beast has Intel inside

KitGuru confirmed that the powerful tiny system, as shown at AMD’s own event, was based upon an Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard with an Intel Core i7-4790K ‘Devil’s Canyon’ processor.

Now AMD has made a statement to explain why it chose to employ a CPU from one of its competitor in what is a flagship pioneering gaming PC.

It told Tom’s Hardware that users wanted the Devil’s Canyon chip in the Project Quantum machine.

Customers “want to pick and choose the balance of components that they want,” and the machine shown off at the E3  was considered to be the height of tech sexiness right now.

AMD said Quantum PCs will feature both AMD and Intel CPUs to address the entire market, but did you see that nice Radeon Fury… think about that right now.

IT is going to be ages before we see the first Project Quantum PCs will be released and the CPU options might change. We would have thought that AMD might want to put its FinFET process ZEN CPUs in Project Quantum with up to 16 cores and 32 threads. We will not see that until next year.


Is Samsung The King Of LTE?

June 24, 2015 by  
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Samsung Electronics has told the world that owns the largest number of patent rights essential for long-term evolution (LTE) technology in the world.

Writing in its official blog “Samsung Tomorrow” that it has more than 3,600 standard essential patents (SEP) for the LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology. That is 17 percent of all LTE-related SEPs.

We guess this means that if someone buys an LTE phone more than 17 per cent of the money which goes to buy patents should end up in Samsung’s bank account.

Samsung Electronics Digital Media & Communication Laboratory’s intellectual property application team head Lee Heung-mo said Samsung Electronics has established a solid foothold as the global leader and the first mover in the fourth-generation mobile telecom market.

“This also means that the company has become able to provide more convenience to customers by developing the latest technologies.”

The Taiwanese patent office conducted market research for the nation’s state-run National Applied Research Laboratory based on about 6,000 patent rights listed at the Patent and Trademark Office in the United States during the last two years.

LG Electronics and Qualcomm followed Samsung Electronics in second place with 14 percent of SEPs, each. Ericsson, Panasonic, Nokia and NTT DoCoMo hold the third spot with 5 percent, each.

Pantech, the nation’s third-largest handset maker which currently faces bankruptcy, held only one percent, while Korea’s state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute owned less than 1 percent, the report showed.

During the patent dispute with Apple, the U.S. International Trade Commission said Apple had infringed on Samsung Electronics’ SEPs though they had to be shared under a “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” principle.

Samsung Electronics said it has pushed for securing the SEPs in this sector during the last 18 years and has competed with global telecom giants including Qualcomm, Nokia and Ericsson as a relative latecomer. It said securing leadership in SEPs may change the crisis of facing patent disputes to diversifying income sources.


MediaTek Debuts Contactless Heart Rate Monitor

June 17, 2015 by  
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While MediaTek might be known for its multi-core smartphone processors, the firm was very keen to show off its more adventurous side at Computex 2015.

With a booth almost entirely dedicated to the latest and greatest from its new Labs division, which aims to bring the latest innovations from developers to market, MediaTek offered something a little more unexpected compared to previous years.

Launched in autumn last year, MediaTek Labs is a worldwide initiative to help developers of any background or skill level to create and market wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

With the firm’s LinkIt Development Platform, based on the MediaTek Aster (MT2502) chipset, sitting at its core, the Labs programme provides developers, makers and service providers with both software and hardware development kits, technical documentation and business support.

Here’s a few of our favourite innovations showed off at Computex, based on either the LinkIt One platform, or the firm’s fresh Helio P10 smartphone family of SoCs.

Heart rate monitoring smartphone camera
This “contactless heartrate monitoring” technology is powered by the firm’s Visual Processing Application in its latest P10 smartphone SoC.

It makes use of a smartphone’s video camera to take a heart rate reading via the front-facing camera by stripping down the layers of the image taken by the camera in real-time to detect the pulse in a user’s temple.

We were rather dubious about how well this might work, so gave it a go. While it took a good few seconds to match up, you can see from the photo that it is almost as accurate as the portable ECG monitoring device we had clipped on our finger. Impressive stuff.

Wine brewer
Winning first prize in the ITRI Mobilehero competition in Taiwan last year, this nifty IoT wine brewing device was developed by a local start-up called Alchema.

It consists of five sensors thatmonitor the alcohol content and the brewing environment. The results we tasted were, shall we say, interesting, if a little on the sharp side.

Alchema looking to raise more funds on Kickstarter before the end of the year.

Another LinkIt-powered device MediaTek showed off at Computex was a wearable aimed for the elderly. Using Bluetooth and accelerometer sensors, the wristband tracker detects the users’ wrist motions and raises an alarm, alerting those that are linked to the watch via a smartphone app if their elderly family member, loved one or friend’s device has detected a sudden movement that could resemble a fall or accident.

Sitting at the more mature end of the LinkIt developer platform spectrum, but still less than a year old, is an electric-scooter rental company called Skuro Moto. We spoke to its chief executive Frank Chen, who is running the company at the tender age of 24 after developing the idea while at university.

Skuro works with electric-vehicle maker Ahamani EV Technology to provide a rental service at Yuan Ze University in Taiwan. The bikes reduce costs for riders by about 30 percent thanks to a monitoring system enabled by the LinkIt chip that lets riders see their power usage. They can also be started by a swipe of a student identity card, to save the trouble of lost keys.